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Why Do So Many People Think Wolves Will Inevitably Attack?

Canines not listed on other forums: African Wild Dogs, Coyotes, Dingoes, Jackals, New Guinea Singing Dogs, Raccoon DOGS, ETC..

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EmilyGrace
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Why Do So Many People Think Wolves Will Inevitably Attack?

Postby EmilyGrace » Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:07 am

Hello all,
I was watching videos of wolf pups (so cute! :D) being raised at Wolf Park in Indiana when I found this Youtube comment. This is a good example of the attitudes that come up again and again as I'm trying to educate myself about captive wolf care and behavior.

metalheartLXVI said:

"I'm sure these pups are now full grown and will soon challenge their master for higher rank in the pack. Wolves are not to be kept as pets.. No matter how much love a human gives them. Because to them you are a wold too and they WILL challenge the Leader. Just saying."

here is the link to the video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMMKtucGpc8

Firstly, it has obviously escaped this person that these animals are cared for their entire lives by humans, and their caretakers strangely do not end up being killed by them. It also expresses the belief that every wolf is constantly vying for a dominant role.

This is a widely held assumption that captive animals (especially wild canids) will inevitably turn on their caretakers because of inherent viciousness, desire to be free, dominance etc... Now, for objectivity's sake I have to ask is there ANY truth to this? What is the context of these attacks when they occur? What role does instinct play, if any?

And if there isn't any truth to this belief, how did it come to be SO widespread in our culture?
I really look forward to hearing people's take on this. :)
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Wolves Will Inevitably Attac

Postby Nìmwey » Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:13 am

I see that all the time, with other animals as well.

Such as a woman keeping several cheetahs and other big cats, they say things such as "R.I.P, for whoever this is, she must be dead now". I replied that I checked, and she's very much alive and well.

If you search Kevin Richardson's name on Google or YouTube, you will often find in the suggestion-list things like "Kevin Richardson death" or "death video". People assume everyone who works with large carnivores will be dead in a few months, a couple of years at most, and so they actively search for videos about their death, when they are in fact still alive and well. :roll:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBJvkSvahpw

If you look around on this forum, you even hear fox owners (I mean, what does a red fox weigh, 5 kg?) hearing things like "Aren't you afraid he'll turn on you?" :lol:

And at the same time, people constantly forget that even domestic cats and dogs are very capable predators and killers, and every time a cat kills a small pet, or a dog attacks a human or othe animal, people are shocked, disgusted and must "put down the animal" (okay, not when it's a cat), because they don't realize animals sometimes behave like just that - animals.
(In some cases aggressive dogs do need to be put down, but the vast majority of the time, it was just circumstances where any dog would have behaved the same, or it is a behavioral issue that can be easily rehabilitated.)
My main interest is in parrots, dogs, toothed whales and snakes.
Future animals I want to have when we have land are camels, wolfdogs/wolves, coyotes or jackals, striped hyena or aardwolf. Also poultry, rabbits water buffalo and/or yak for livestock.
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Wolves Will Inevitably Attac

Postby Ash » Fri Jan 10, 2014 3:49 pm

It's really because animal rights groups have brainwashed the current generation. I mean, when you were a little kid, how many times when you brought home a lizard, frog (or what have you) did someone make a very wholesome statement that "it belongs in the wild/must return it to its natural habitat." That whole train of thought did not exist until a few decades ago. And now that's what people preach, whether they be your parents, school teacher, neighbor, simply because they don't know any better.

The same thing with "it will turn on you" too. It's just a way that animal rights groups are working to discourage private ownership of anything wild. They make it seem that animals just "snap," especially since they're "wild," and therefore anyone who owns one of these creatures is just stupid.

I thought these very things myself until I actually educated myself. Most people are just ignorant, they just don't know any better and will never do their own research because they wouldn't ever want to own anything exotic. The real people who are to blame are those who started the brainwashing--PETA, HSUS, ASPCA, and other animal rights extremists.

We are also entering a strange age where people are humanizing animals too much, and that's becoming a problem. Don't get me wrong, animals can feel emotions, like being happy, sad, angry, betrayed, etc., BUT they do NOT think like humans. So many people believe it is wrong for an animal like, say, a lion, to live on concrete because it "deserves and wants to feel grass beneath its paws." A lion doesn't think twice about those things. Or sometimes people will see animals at a zoo and they'll think "the lion just wants to be free; it doesn't want people to stare at it day-in, day-out." Well, animals don't sit there thinking about freedom--as "beautiful" and "wholesome" a concept as it sounds. An animal raised in a zoo knows nothing different, and they are not intelligent enough to think about concepts they've never even experienced. If you see an animal that looks "miserable" in a zoo, it probably is either just being lazy or is waiting for its keepers to bring it some enrichment.

Wolves are actually not dangerous if hand-raised from a young age. They are very bonded to their owners and are loyal animals. You should be assertive with them, much like you would be with any animal, but they aren't constantly going to be challenging your authority or anything like that. I suppose if a wolf gets winter-wolf-syndrome, then yes, they are dangerous and should be avoided, but that's mostly just because of hormones and isn't the animal's fault. I'd hardly consider that "turning on you."

Long reply, lol. Just feeling long-winded today, I guess. ;)
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Wolves Will Inevitably Attac

Postby TamanduaGirl » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:12 pm

On the specific question. Each wolf has it's own personality. A more naturally dominant personality might clash more but there are plenty with naturally complacent beta or even omega attitudes. If all wolves were constantly fighting for higher rank the pack wouldn't work.

I see the emotion thing a lot now too. How dare you humiliate this animal by putting clothes on it or kissing it or whatever. An animal isn't going to be humiliated even if you put a clown costume on them. At worst they will be a bit uncomfortable. Beaker doesn't like clothes but I know he wouldn't feel any worse over a pink dress than he does a Harley jacket, or even just a harness, he just doesn't like the feel of any of it. Or I get lots of Ar comments on Pua looking out the window video about how she's pinning to be free. She actually could have gone out if she wanted but she was waiting for the sun to go down first so just chillin by the window.
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Wolves Will Inevitably Attac

Postby Juska » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:59 pm

Time to put on my sarcastic "I will believe everything this moron says because they're pretending to know what they're talking about" character:

"Because to them you are a wold too and they WILL challenge the Leader."

It seems that this intelligent YouTube commenter is not only an English major but a WOLF BIOLOGIST as well! They sure told YOU the logical explanation of how every single captive-bred exotic attack happens! They just TURN out of nowhere because they suddenly want to be the "Leader"! How could we be so blind to the truth?

That MUST be how we domesticated them into dogs. Probably the same reason dogs attack and kill people sometimes, too. They just snap one day for no reason, or they're challenging us for leadership of the pack! Because dogs ARE wolves and exhibit pack behavior, right? As in, there is an Alpha, and are RARELY challenged for leadership?

/end scene

People seem to believe in their heart of hearts that a wolf pack is nothing but the underlings constantly challenging the alphas for leadership. And that dogs do the same thing. Yeah freaking right. They see one show on TV about wolves and see them play-fighting to build stronger bonds as a family group, and a little light goes on in their head saying "They're fighting for dominance!", and suddenly, a "wolf biologist" is born. If a pack of wolves ALL fought for the Alpha position like that, they'd all be dead and there would be no "pack" to lead.

Not all animals are born to be nor want to be leaders. In fact, we've made dogs evolve specifically to NOT want to be the leader. Most dogs have the mentality of a wolf puppy for most of their lives. "You raise and feed me, I love you". That's why people equate their pets with babies. Because they have been bred to act that way.

Fun fact: Dogs and wolves lick the faces of their kin when they're young to "ask" the adult to regurgitate food (as do birds and other creatures in the animal kingdom). You know what other animal does that? Humans. Before we had spoons and baby bottles, primitive forms of humans would chew food and feed their babies with their mouths. And so evolved that wonderful display of affection we now refer to as "kissing". The end. Next time give your significant other a peck on the lips, thank evolution that s/he's not about to puke in your mouth.

This is what happens when AR groups take over TV networks and allow people like Caesar Milan to spew primitive bull%()& about how dogs and wolves live by "pack nature", that you're "the leader" and you need to beat your dog into submission so they don't "challenge" you. You know what? If you beat and scare the hell out of your dog, it's going to ATTACK you because it's SCARED of you. Same reason that children who are abused by trusted authority figures are more likely to exhibit violent or other abnormal social behaviors towards others (not all, obviously).

They also seem to forget that animals born in captivity are, in fact, NOT "stolen from the wild", and never feel the longing for "freedom", as Ash said. Humans came from the wild, why don't YOU go live in the wild? Don't you long for the open sky, the fresh air, the inevitable death from exposure and lack of knowledge to help you survive? No? Neither does a tiger living in a well-built enclosure with daily enrichment and a nutrient-balanced diet that's probably better than what you eat.

That's like seeing a family car sitting in a garage and saying "Look at it. It must be longing to drive on a race track, but it will never know the freedom of an open circle track. How sad for the car. Just look at its face. Such longing and sadness." It's human personification and nothing more. Animals don't feel regret or embarrassment. Those are human emotions and human alone.

My mother tried to argue with me the other day about how captive bred exotic animals like tigers "belong in the wild". I told her that they're captive bred, and if they were released into the "wild", they would either be poached because they are an endangered species because of HUMANS, or, if it escaped that, it would die of starvation because it has been raised without the instinct and knowledge to seek out, hunt down and kill a prey animal, with success, on a regular enough basis to sustain its own life. Yes, they do have the capability to kill. But it is not sufficient to survive on.

She then tried to argue that "Well then why don't people keep elephants as pets?" Because they're not [generally] legal to own by private citizens, not to mention the fact that they're enormous and incredibly expensive to care for versus a tiger. "Then why are tigers [legal to own]?" Because THEY ARE legal to own (generally, I didn't go into detail about state/city laws). Jeeeeze.

It's like she wouldn't know why you're allowed to drive a four-door sedan in town and NOT a Formula One race car. One is legal to drive on that particular road, one IS NOT.

Back to the topic at hand.

Just like a dog doesn't attack unprovoked (whether by accident, pre-disposition brought on by abuse or otherwise), neither does any exotic animal. There is always a reason and it is almost ALWAYS something that we have done to make them feel the need to either defend themselves or see us as something we're not. But just because we may not fully understand an animal's thought process does NOT mean we should project our own onto them, for example "It attacked someone because it wanted to be free", or just simply think they're mindless killers when previously they had done no harm to any living creature.

Just because people kill for "no reason" doesn't mean that animals do, too.

That's why I think its outrageous and inhumane when a dog is either shot and killed or immediately euthanized when it bites, scratches or even snaps at a young child, LEFT ALONE in a room/outdoors and unsupervised. I think most people like to repress that little memory we all have of when we were children and we did not understand that other creatures could feel pain. So we "scratched, pinched and pulled ears" of our household pets. Then when the animal reacted and either bit or did something else that was scary, we ran to mom and dad with tears in our eyes, claiming "He bit/scratched/hurt me! I didn't do ANYTHING WRONG!".

But then we realize that was bad to do, so we pretend we NEVER did that to ANY animal as a toddler. If you didn't catch it, I directly quoted Lady and the Tramp there. Because there's been an ongoing misconception that dogs are supposed to just sit and take it when a child hurt them since BEFORE that film was made. I kind of blame Disney for pounding the idea of personified animals (as if they think and feel exactly the way humans do) into people's heads.

Back in the day, if you got scratched by the cat or bitten by the dog in retaliation of such an act, you were told "See what happens when you hurt an animal?", not "Oh my god, the dog we've had for three years SNAPPED at our toddler! Dogs aren't supposed to do that to people! IT'S TURNING ON US! CALL THE POLICE!"

When I was four years old, my Aunt Bonnie had a Basset Hound named Flint. He was older, and as you may or may not know, Basset Hounds are kind of known for not being tolerate to children and rough-housing.

One day when I was sitting next to him on the floor, I did something to provoke him. I don't remember what I did, but I know it was me who did something wrong. I might have been bothering him while we was asleep, or pulled his ear, I'm not sure. But he bit me on my right hand. Not hard enough to puncture the skin, but it HURT. I ran to my Aunt, and told her that Flint bit my hand. She saw there wasn't an open wound, kissed it to make it better after running my hand under the faucet, and told me [from what I can remember] "Flint can get grumpy sometimes. Animals don't like to be bugged when they don't want to play, okay? If he doesn't want to play, leave him alone. If you're bored, come get me and we'll play together."

I kinda wish everyone would have learned from their experiences as a kid, owned up to their mistakes and realized that animals can and will hurt you, if you make them want to hurt you or if you express to them something you might not mean.

I think I've cancelled out your apology for the long post, Ash! Haha.

Sorry this mostly went on about dogs and not wolves, but there is a correlation there, not just by genetics but by the fact that they are both animals that are capable of hurting people.

There's just the problem of trying to convince people that they don't "turn" on us for whatever baloney reason they want to give, whether it's a domestic or exotic pet.
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Wolves Will Inevitably Attac

Postby Lasergrl » Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:20 pm

Well people do need to keep winter wolf syndrome in mind, as many wolves will go through this.
Again as was noted, not all, but, even breeders around here know even the sweetest wolf, you don't turn your back on during this hormonal period.
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Wolves Will Inevitably Attac

Postby EmilyGrace » Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:03 am

What a terrible challenge for exotic and wildlife lovers! I've read that in american culture there have historically been 2 extremist views concerning wild nature: either that it is 1) dangerous and must be conquered by civilization, or 2) that it is pure, perfect, and that it should be left untouched. But I see there's a lot more to it than that!
Honestly, if it's not one thing it's another. This poisonous attitude, it just... really bothers me. I get that some people will always just be blind and hateful no matter what you do. But I think that the majority of people just don't know any better! Has any one found a really good way of changing the minds of uneducated critics?

@Lasergrl What is winter wolf syndrome? I've never heard of it before. Is it comparable at all to the october crazies in foxes?

@Nimwey What an awful thing to say about that cheetah owner! Even if the people who made the comments don't know any better... I'm glad you said something. I really am starting to realize that people don't understand animals half as well as they pretend to. Even domestic dogs. :(

@Ash When I first started looking into fox domestication, I have to admit I was a little unsettled by it too. I was also raised with the belief that "wild animals belong in the wild". I quickly came to realize otherwise. What's most important is understanding THEM with projecting human tropes onto them, or turning them into another animal. Learning about their specific behavior, care needs, and individual personalities is the best way to insure a happy animal. What more can anyone ask of their caretakers?

I think most people are frightened by exotics because they are so different, but that's also what's wonderful about them! Making that effort to understand the animal before running a campaign to prohibit them would be a great first step. :P
Sorry if I'm a little bitter because my state is Oregon and ridiculous when it comes to exotics ownership.

Also, those organizations that want to help wild animals but preach a hands off, wild only approach... I think their hearts are is in the right place, but they fundamentally believe that wild animals and people can't coexist. Or that people will inevitably abuse them. But honestly, with the wilderness areas shrinking and human population increasing, unless drastic changes are made... how realistic is we'll be able to save them without becoming more directly involved?

I believe that if people are exposed to wild animals, they will come to love them as we have...
And that might be their only chance...


@TamanduaGirl I'm sure there isn't a happier Tamandua in the whole world than Pua. And I used to dress up my dog too! In a tutu! She was the most patient bulldog ever.

Living with an animal is the best way to find out new things about their behavior, and I don't think it should be so damning. I feel that while we should protect wild populations of animals, making a place for them in human society can only insure their survival. Because many of them seem doomed to disappear from their wild habitat. :( So if they can live in a human environment, why not? And there's obviously a desire in us to be close with these beautiful animals too.

As for wolves in specific... every member contributes to the structure and well being of the pack. Weird how the alpha role is the only one that seems to stick with people.

@Juska I'm as fascinated by dog behavior as I am by wolf, coyote, and fox behavior so I loved every bit of your post! I'm gradually realizing that people misunderstand dog behavior almost as often as they do wolf behavior! I don't currently own a dog (I wish though!) and have never trained one before, but I am starting to notice these things everywhere I go:
People not making effort to train them and socialize them so that they know what is expected of them. And then yelling at them, hitting them, or jerking their lead when the dog behaves in a way that they don't want them to behave.
I've heard the "alpha" and "pack" mentality applied to dog behavior before, and while I'm not particularly educated about dogs, I am skeptical. Everyone seems to believe it though!

On the other hand many people act as if their dogs understand them when they talk, or know when they've done something wrong. Like they're little humans! I think people in general just need to understand ANIMALS better (before we can even talk about wilds and exotics :P)

P.S. Your experience with Flint reminded me of my grandmothers cat, SpookyBooterButt. She scratched me several times as a kid, and Grandma would patch me up but was otherwise unsympathetic. I had to learn to respect Spooky's boundaries. She was a cranky cat, but I was even able to pet her a couple times once I grew up a little. It was a real accomplishment for me.

Thank you for putting up with my ramblings! This has been turning around in my mind for a while, and I guess I had more to say about it than I realized! :D
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Wolves Will Inevitably Attac

Postby Cindy23323 » Sat Jan 11, 2014 8:30 am

Emily, Winter wolf syndrome can happen during breeding season. It does not happen to all of them but it does happen often enough that anyone looking into getting these animals need to be made aware of it if they plan on keeping intact animals.
My two luckily it hasn't happened to as of yet (knock on wood) and they are going on 6 and 7.

During breeding season the hormones take over and all they can think of is they're mate, and you're once loving wolf/wolfdog could end up injuring you. Once breeding time is over they go back to they're normal selves.

There is someone on the wolfdog forum that had it happen to him that wrote about his experience with it. I'll post the link to his story.

http://www.wolfdogforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=84

Here's a little more info
http://www.wolf-to-wolfdog.org/wws.htm
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Wolves Will Inevitably Attac

Postby EmilyGrace » Sun Jan 12, 2014 4:58 pm

@cindy23323 what a story... I'm glad it worked out in the end for Sampson and his owner but that could have ended really badly! A worst case scenario of not being able to enter their kennel without extremely wary (if you can even get in) for MONTHS. I'm frankly daunted by the idea.
Dont get me wrong, I'm not dissuaded from wanting to work with wolves and wolf hybrids. But i can only imagine what a challenging aspect of their care that is.
I also understand why people who arent particularly knowledgeable about wolves would feel afraid, and justified in their assertions that wolves cant be safely kept in captivity.Definetely not unless you really know what youre doing! And definetly not in the average household! :)
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Wolves Will Inevitably Attac

Postby Ash » Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:08 pm

One of the things that looks so scary to people is how wolves interact with each other. It's a lot of growls and putting their mouths over the other wolf's face. People will see that and assume the wolf is in a really bad mood, and therefore more prone to attack.
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Wolves Will Inevitably Attac

Postby Cindy23323 » Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:48 am

Yes you have to learn to read them. They're not exactly like dogs and give off different signals. Its not as much as the growling when they're playing that would scare me, compared to if they were looking and you and started huffing.

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